Deplorable Design

I am sharing these photos to demonstrate the inadequacy of the designs we have to suffer in Anchorage. The photos are of a tunnel underneath Boniface Parkway in Anchorage, Alaska. The tunnel is part of a required route for students to walk to attend the local Elementary School that sits a few hundred feet from the East side of the tunnel.

What are the issues we see in these photos?

  • The tunnel is not sealed from above, so water seeps into the tunnel from the road bed.
  • The tunnel is not shielded from ice and debris plowed off the road above
  • The ice and debris plowed of the road above piles up at the entrances to the tunnel (not shown here is a photo from some years ago where the snow wall created by the plowing covered half the height of the tunnel).
  • The tunnel is at the lowest point of the trail on the West end, meaning that it serves as the sump for all water.
  • There is a drain to the storm sewer a few feet to the East of the tunnel entrance on the East side, but that is frozen over half the year.
  • As you can see, melt from outside the tunnel solely covers the entire tunnel eventually rendering the entire surface glassy.
  • And, not seen in this photo, the lack of any trail lighting on the West side though this has been in the Master Plan for this area for DECADES.

Are there any reasons that these issues could not have been avoided? Two: a) failure to produce an adequate design, and/or b) refusal to fund an adequate design.

Recall Dunleavy Volunteer Packet!

If you are too impatient to read on, skip to the packet below by clicking here.

Most Alaskans I think understood that there would be recall fever as soon as petitions were available, which is why it was so important that rollout by the organizing group be impeccably planned in advance. Well, let’s just say that their hearts are definitely in the right place and they are moving forward.

In the interim, I have been able to secure the volunteer packet (which, YES, does include petition forms). It apparently was distributed to some persons under the e-mail appended below from Meda Dewitt (my link to the packet appears below that). The font choice is mine to separate this post from DeWitt’s e-mail.

Additionally I am informed and believe that packets will be available at the AFL-CIO Offices in Anchorage on Monday.

Go get some signatures!

___________

For new signature gathering volunteers that you have recruited who want to start gathering signatures. Or if you would like to know more about the process. Please have them read the Volunteer guide and attend the webinar at 1pm this afternoon. If they are unable to attend, that is ok, we will be recording this session so that they can access it with a link at a later time.

Thank you! Meda

__________

Good Evening Fellow Alaskans,

First and foremost I would like to thank you for your patience. This process is moving quickly and there is a tremendous amount of energy behind the Recall of Michael J. Dunleavy from the office of Governor of Alaska.

Please see the attached compressed folder, in it you will find:

– Volunteer Guide. Please read it thoroughly and ask all of your volunteers to also read.

– Recall Signature form. Most important document, print double sided, do not alter.

– Statement of Legal Grounds for the Recall of Dunleavy.

– Recall Legal Memo. This explains the legal grounds. (We know there is a typo. I promised this email for no later than today, will send the updated one tomorrow.)

– An open letter from Co-Chairs Joseph E. Usibelli and Peggy Shumaker to Alaskans.

– Volunteer Sign up sheet. Please don’t confuse this with the official signature sheet.

Recall Dunleavy will be hosting a webinar/call in session tomorrow for any questions and general check-ins from around the state on how everything is going. Please read the attached documents before the webinar, it is quite comprehensive.

Thank you,

Meda DeWitt, Chair of Recall Dunleavy

P.S. You may get duplicates of the email, because I will be sending it out to different threads and replies to make sure it gets to the people who need it. Thank you for your continued patience.

Recall Dunleavy Volunteer Q and A session

Sat, Aug 3, 2019 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM AKDT

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/896701869

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (646) 749-3112

Access Code: 896-701-869

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/896701869
.

 Click for Recall Dunleavy Volunteer packet

Click to go to RecallDunleavy.org

No Pledge, No Anthem, No Chauvinism

A Letter to the Anchorage School Board regarding the proposal to force Anthem Listening
*****************
Dear Board,

Once again it would appear that Mr. Donley 1 promotes a bizarre and inappropriate “solution” to address an as yet unrealized problem.

I initially supposed that Mr. Donley felt that a full and comprehensive study of our unsingable US National Anthem  — only adopted in 1931 for the purposes of promoting Maryland —  a product of plagiarism from a tune known far and wide as a celebrating drinking song, the lyrics of which were written by a racist observer of a bombardment that was the result of ludicrous policy implemented by the Jeffersonians, leading to a war that no one in their right mind wanted, that was a huge embarrassment to the US —  should rightfully be the subject of study by public school students for the purpose of increasing national cohesion through an appreciation of American exceptionalism. 2

NOT SO! Mr. Donley wrote that all he wants is to play the National Anthem, without apparently addressing any of the odious aspects thereof, and ignoring the invitation thereby to all our students to “take a knee” during its playing. Excuse me, but it really sounds like Mr. Donley is looking to create not only a problem, but a basis upon which to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees. I wasn’t aware we had that money to burn.

Mr. Donley says he is concerned about history and civics, and yet he seems not to have learned anything about either. Mr. Justice Frankfurther once expounded opinions much like those promoted by Mr. Donley 3 If you did not know who the author was, you might be forgiven for thinking it was Himmler…

National unity is the basis of national security. * * * The ultimate foundation of a free society is the binding tie of cohesive sentiment. Such a sentiment is fostered by all those agencies of the mind and spirit which may serve to gather up the traditions of a people, transmit them from generation to generation, and thereby create that continuity of a treasured common life which constitutes a civilization. We live by symbols. The flag is the symbol of our national unity, transcending all internal differences, however large, within the framework of the Constitution.

No wonder that opinion lasted only three years.

Whatever Mr. Donley’s delusions of his childhood, flags have rarely been unifying in anything but battle, as flags, like anthems, serve only as litmus tests, and are senseless in a pluralistic society. The US National Anthem signifies the unlawful acts associated with the international hegemony that the US has pursued for decades. It signifies the governmental misconduct with respect to a long list of populations. It signifies repression, at home and abroad. “But not so!”, you cry. But you, living in your Norman Rockwell glass bubble, are not the arbiter of universal reality, and millions of Americans have applauded actions taken during the anthem for the purpose of exercising free speech regarding this country’s horrific abuses (now in the limelight more than ever)!

If you want cohesion, bond over a common understanding of our history, good, bad, AND ugly. Bond over a universal sense of compassion and good will to all (an aesthetic apparently denigrated by both our State and Federal Administrations). Bond over a commitment to education and facing the world and the future intelligently ans rationally (as opposed to attacking teachers, slashing educational budgets, and demeaning academia).

The world Mr. Donley wants to recapture is gone forever, if it ever existed. It is time for Mr. D to either decide to join the 21st Century or be relegated to the trash heap of U.S. History, along with the culture warriors now playing “gubmint” in Juneau. YOU, however, are in the business of educating children. It is high time you got on with that, whether or not Mr. Donley is up to it.

Painting of Anacreontics

Anacreontick’s in full song, by James Gillray (died 1815), published 1801.

Consensus

In a Facebook discussion  1  stemming from Andy Hollman’s posting of Jacob Bera’s recent piece for the AASB 2 questions of the value of one of AkDEED’s experiments in teacher assessment were raised, and as it seemed to me that the discussion was turning away in part from a focus on what Jacob had to say, I thought I would start a thread focused on that alone.

AkDEED, face with continuing concerns with regard to evidence-based certification and assessment of teachers, decided to look at whether a consensus could be produced regarding appropriate praxis. AkDEED enlisted the assistance of hundreds of Master Teachers who then watched hours of videos of teachers teaching, rating performances on multiple scales. These volunteers then reviewed and discussed what they saw, why they rated the video the way they did, and how any differences might be resolved.

Now, the use of videos as a tool for teacher evaluation is widely accepted (it is in fact a major element of National Certification3 ). However, as anyone familiar with the topic will note, the teacher is free to submit any video the teacher wishes, and may redo the video over and over, and even school their students in performing for the video. So one can see that using video is at best fraught and dubious (yet it is one fundamental to one of Jacob’s arguments, but that is for another discussion …)

What I wish to address here, and what I tried to point out there, are some of the premises underlying any evaluation. There are two matters that are particularly of concern: 1) the manner in which any evaluation rubric is established, and 2) the manner in which evaluators (NBPTS uses the terms “assessors”) are qualified. To put that into rather simple language, can we agree on what good teaching is, and can we identify individuals who can sniff that out?

AKDEED adopted an Aristotelian, rather than a Platonic model. In other words, AkDEED thought they would crowdsource from those who would likely really understand the subtleties of educational praxis. We can arguably contrast that with NBPTS, which self-selected persons to set up a system to find those like themselves. I won’t argue the pros or cons of either methodology here; my focus here is on whether one can expect to obtain a consensus from experts on what those experts are supposed to be doing.

In a sense, AKDEED developed a practical exercise in what can be described as a modified Delphi method, running various prompts repeatedly through a group of experts to see if consensus about what good teaching is could be obtained.  Note that this part of the process has little or nothing to do with how the videos were prepared.  The focus is on whether what is being viewed is evidence of good teaching. In fact, such videos are used as part of educational instructional across the country.

The results were problematic. There was little agreement on what good teaching was, and some rather heated arguments about what wasn’t. In as much as the responses to videos were arguably more dependent on a teacher’s philosophy than on the evidence that of course made it just as difficult to grapple with the second horn; it was going to be virtually impossible to get any cadre of evaluators to agree on most anything.

Many teachers will assume that they and their colleagues are all extremely competent, but absent broad opportunities for peer review, those views seem more a collection of prejudices than evidence-based conclusions. I have to consider how teachers are “prepared”, and I see little that argues that first year teachers hired from UAA are by virtue of their degree, competent to teach. Whatever your thoughts about the management of ASD, it would appear that ASD has essentially agreed with me for some time. No, I am not saying that all UAA teachers are useless twits; I am saying that we have little evidence to show that they are competent independent professionals.

I have been inordinately lucky in some respects. I have had many teachers observe my teaching and have been able to observe many teachers across numerous subject areas and levels. Personally I think that is invaluable experience and is why I am a proponent of peer review. But then I see teaching like excellent theater, an approach I think not shared by all that many.

But to return to the focus of this reflection, if teachers can’t develop a consensus, then they are either agreeing that anything goes, or that they will knuckle their forehead to some arbitrary authority (who may be a philosopher king, or a tantrumming tyro.) I am not a fan of Doors 2 and 3.

Just Another Simple Solution

There’s no easy way to put this, so I might as well come out and just say it: Mr. Donley appears to be very confused.1 Unfortunately this is only to be expected from the silver bullet crowd who invariably see all problems as susceptible to simple solutions, solution simple solutions that they, of course, have at the ready.

Social promotion has been a concern for years 2, but it is not the source of the problem. The  reason for social promotion is that we have a system largely based on age based cohorts. And for most of a students school years, and removal from their age cohort is a kin to branding the child as “defective”.

Many educators have pointed out ways to address retention and social promotion 3 and underlying may of those recommendations is the fact that  if schools moved to a skill based system as opposed to an age based system, artifacts like social promotion would disappear, especially as the granularity of the skill based modules is increased. In fact, some of the more successful programs on view in schools attempt to exploit just such options, like Walk to Read 4, where students are grouped across classrooms for reading instruction.

Certainly there are challenges to any educational system. A typical criticism of skill based cohort management is that this is simply “tracking”5 and that tracking breeds elitism. Gross tracking could clearly lead in that direction, but effective course management and the distribution of children make it pretty clear that such results might only be seen for 3 of a thousand children, all of whom would have been entitled to IEPs as exceptional children until the likes of Mr Donley “fixed” the Alaska Statutes.

But changing the cohort system is not just a different “silver bullet”; it is not a comprehensive solution. Not only do we need to change the cohort system to focus on instruction (instead of focusing on “management”) but we also need to implement early childhood and Pre-K surveillance, assessment, and service,  as well as clinical intervention to address fundamental inadequacies in literacy and numeracy. It is not like we can hide our heads in the sand any more; we KNOW that early deficiencies in reading WILL result in likely trauma, incarceration, etc.6 Spend the money now, or spend the money later.

Lastly, let me note that this is not likely a sudden inspiration on Mr. Donley’s part. With the election of the current Governor, we will be seeing a bill along the same lines introduced in the legislature . 7 I don’t want to fault Republican legislators for being concerned about education; but endorsing a corporate package unsupported by actual research is a recipe for disaster.

 

Far From Indivisible, Alaska

I recently received the mailer below from the Wright campaign. I tried to post that mailer, together with my “call to action” 1 to the Indivisible Alaska Facebook group 2, which touts as its purpose:

We are pursuing the Indivisible Team’s strategy (please read indivisibleguide.com). We resist Trump’s racist, authoritarian, and corrupt agenda by focusing on local, defensive congressional advocacy. We demand that our own local Members of Congress serve as our voice in Washington, DC. We model inclusion, respect, and fairness in all of our actions.

This is an action-oriented group with Call to Actions. We understand the frustrations and anxiety in these times. However, if you wish to express your concerns and anxieties, there are other groups on facebook such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment.

This group is action-oriented as described by indivisibleguide.com. For that reason, the posts are moderated so we do not dilute our Call to Actions.

Before inviting other friends to this action-oriented group, please inform them that they will need to answer these question before they are approved for membership.

Our most recent Call to Action will be pinned at the top of the discussion. Please help us with our Calls to Action (phone calls, visits to local Congressional offices, etc.), at least once a week.

My “call to action”?
Please call Stanley (9077430459) and ask him for specifics!

Ask him what he specifically was opposed to in SB 91 (here’s the engrossed bill http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/29?Hsid=SB0091Z and an ADN piece on misconceptions https://www.adn.com/…/how-sb-91-has-changed-alaskas-crimin…/ so you can score his responses) Ask him what he thinks of SB 54 (http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=SB0054Z), why he thinks that SB 54 did not “fix” SB91. Ask him what he specifically thinks the incumbent should have but didn’t do with respect to SB54. Ask him where his proposed legislation can be found for your review.

Please ask Stanley on what occasions the incumbent voted to cut the PFD, and why the incumbent voted on each occasion to cut the PFD, as well as what he specifically would have done to avoid cutting the PFD (“cut the budget” is NOT an answer.)

And ask Stanley why he thinks the incumbent, who has been a vociferous advocate for educational funding, should be replaced by someone who will hopefully either be in the House minority, or will be forced to vote to cut educational spending (the mantra of the state GOP).

It is time to make Republican candidates realize that running on truthiness will no longer be tolerated.

Direct, issue grounded, respectful, and to the point. My submission was not approved.

I was a bit miffed because not only was my submission clearly within the pale of posts previously approved for the group, but because the Group allowed two threads to burgeon that spewed inaccurate vitriol attacking Judges Corey and Wolverton, who are presently the targets of another mob campaign by those who, clueless about how our system works, simply want to just hang the most convenient person.

When I asked one of the admins, Kathleen Smith Goodman, why my post was not approved, but the admins allowed the mob rants about the Judges, I received this message:

Your post needs to be toned down. Make it more direct with a quick ask and it will be reviewed again and more likely looked at by more people in the group. We are not a discussion group or a place to air your frustrations. You may look to these other sites for that, such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment and further discussion. I have had no requests from other members to remove comments on judges.

So much for “indivisible” Alaska.

Once again, an hysterical self-appointed purity patrol has rolled out the guillotine to lop off the head of anyone who is not as manic as they are. I invite all rational Alaskans to join this group (if you are not a member already) and post your disgust with such witch hunting.


Husbandry vs Hubris

We had seen her regularly in RJSP for a month or more. This past weekend she was down in the spring, and Tuesday she was up in the meadows below the moraine. But there was as yet no sign of any calf. This morning as we walked the proposed bike trail, Bernie suddenly went on point, and I scanned the copse of trees 40 yards ahead. Sure enough, there was mama with not one calf, but two, brightly minted new moose. Any tweener on that trail on a mountain bike (and I have raised a few myself) would have plowed into Mama Moose at about 8 mph, and the Mrs. would not have been pleased.

What we are seeing in the MOA’s brash attempt to push through single track trails in Russian Jack Springs Park is a past MOA Park official now running a private grant shop abusing Municipal systems intended to protect natural resources (and the public’s interests) to promote a recreational user group, entangling ADF&G habitat biologists in what is really a web of deceit. The proposed trail ran through wetlands in an area identified as critical natural habitat and the response, put crudely, from ADF&G biologist Cunya, was that a game path is much the same as a highway so it’s of no concern to anyone at ADF&G… Did I overstate the biologist’s position? Perhaps, but that was the impact of what he had to say on the grant process, because Ms. Nordland (not Anna Shaw, who spoke to the biologists) certified that there were no resident fish in RJSP (false), no anadromous fish in RJSP (very possibly false), no migratory fowl in RJSP (false), no raptors in RJSP (false), and no concerns regarding interactions between large land mammals and humans (really?).  And virtually none of that is really defensible.

Is my disappointment primarily with ADF&G? No. Frankly, the MOA (and the buck here sits in Chris Schutte’s lap) has bobbed and weaved in an effort to duck every checkpoint that Planning has placed in the system, including, apparently, ignoring Title 21’s requirement for a UDC Trail review, ensuring that the WNRC could not review the project, and refusing to comply with the 2006 Municipal Plan or the 2009 directive from PRC requiring the development of a natural resource plan before any further development in the park. But as habitat biologists, ADF&G staff could have set flags, in no small part because they are very well aware that the MOA has no habitat staff.

Last year my neighbor and I put out garbage cans in the park (and regularly cleaned them) because P&R had decided that the danger of Black bear in RJSP was so great that all non-bear proof cans had to be removed. They took ours, as well the cans at the ball fields! We have seen one Black bear in the area (on the east side of Cheney Lake) in 20 years. We see half a dozen moose in RJSP almost year around, with 2-4 calves each spring, and the position of P&R is that if someone gets hurt by a moose “that’s up to the lawyers to work out, ha ha ha”. Perhaps we need to change the name of Parks and Rec. to the Municipal Hubris Department?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pages 50-51 of the Anchorage Bowl Park, Natural Resource,and Recreation Facility Plan, adopted by Adopted by Ordinance AO 2005-122, April 18, 2006. Click on the images to obtain the pdf files.

Grober’s Jean Memo

I thought this had been tossed in the trash years ago… Imagine my amazement when I found out it had been circulating around the Courthouse for ages…

 

TO: JUDGE VAN HOOMISON
FROM: MARC GROBER
RE: DRESS CODES

Last week in Nenana you warned me not to wear “jean” slacks or shirts into a courtroom where you are presiding. At first blush your directive seemed simple enough, but upon further meditation
I have developed some real problems in ordering future vestments.

I present the following discussion to you in the spirit that it may prove profitable and hope that this sort of discussion may yield a formal order from each judge which may be posted on the courtroom door. This may prevent the confusion I felt, having appeared numerous times in your court in a jean shirt with jean slacks, tie and jacket. Perhaps because of the distance between bar and bench you never noticed it til now.

Specifically, what is nature of the beast you are discriminating against? The dictionary defines jean as durable twilled cotton. Denim is defined as twilled fabric which may or may not be cotton. Twill is a type of weave where weft is floated over two or more threads (both serge and gabardine are twills), as opposed for example to chambray, which is a plain weave. If I recall correctly I was at the time wearing a blue cotton chambray shirt.

I am sure you can see my dilemma. Surely you can’t be asking me to buy non-durable clothes? And I am just as sure that you can’t be proscribing twills, for most fine clothes are twill weaved (gabardine, serge, herringbone etc.) Or is it the cotton that offends? On top of it all, though my slacks were cotton twill my shirt was plain weaved • • • it would appear that the only common factors were their blueness (my favorite color) and the fact that they were cotton.

Now, is a polyester denim appropriate? I do so deplore synthetic. fabrics. I do have a Blue wool twill suit, but it is terribly stifling for spring and summer wear.

With respect to shirts, sir, I do have a cotton polyester blue denim shirt manufactured by Lee but because of the use of polyester as reinforcement I am not really sure if this is jean or not. This, however , is a shirt I have worn in your Courtroom before • • •

And while on the subject, I have worn my moose skin boots (my usual footwear) to court in the winter. Are there any guidelines as to summer footwear? I prefer my waders as that is usually what I wear, but I understand that another attorney was found in contempt for coming into Court that way.

I was recently reproached wearing a sweater instead of a sports jacket. One can only get suit coats with suits and I always thought that sports clothes were taboo in court. Are pullovers of fabric allowable? What about wrap-around sweaters and warm-up jackets? Please, what are appropriate criteria?

Some people wear hats, of course, for religious and personal reasons. For example, many chassids (a Jewish sect I have admired) wear large black broad brimmed felt hats everywhere. Indeed many feel it is virtually sacrilegious to bare your head to anybody or anything. My grandfather’s generation felt much the same about their Bogart-style hats. I know that there are many cases in this area, for
example can an attorney who is a priest wear his religious costume to court. Certainly there are First Amendment questions that need to be considered here.

Lastly, After reading the Friedman case I hope we don’t have to tangle with “conservative business-dress”. Nenana is as conservative as they come but business men here almost never wear jacket and tie and one successful business man wears well used work pants, suspenders, and T-shirt. Not to mention that I saw Governor Hammond on the TV the other night giving us the business and he didn’t even have a tie on • • •

Personally I’d get a kick out of wearing a black robe like yours (they do it that way in England you know)! That way you wouldn’t have to worry about what my clothes were made of and I might even get a tax deduction out of it • • •

UPDATE ON ANCHORAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S LOOK AT SCHOOL START TIMES

High School student Matthew Park started a petition to ASD in July 2017 to push high school start times to 8:30. https://www.change.org/p/anchorage-school-district-push-start-times-in-asd-high-schools-to-8-30-am

In August of 2017 the Superintendent (Dr. Deena Bishop) and the Board President (Tam Agosti-Gisler) indicated that they wanted to look at changing school start times.  https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/education/2017/08/09/should-the-anchorage-school-district-change-its-school-start-times/

By November the Superintendent had used her discretionary budget to hire Western Demographics to look at the issue in what some have called an “efficiency study”.  http://www.ktva.com/story/36909860/local-teens-welcome-new-school-start-times

Since then the Superintendent has published a web page on school start times on the ASD website. The Page never identified who actually authored the content. https://www.asdk12.org/Page/10284  The web page originally contained names and dates of authors whose work purportedly supported the claims made in the document, but no bibliography was ever included. When complaints were made about ASD needing to provide a full bibliography, the material identifying dates and authors was deleted. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AkEducators/permalink/10156543167479267/  A  bibliography that included all but one of the sources apparently mentioned by ASD (one did not appear to exist) as well as quite a bit of additional literature addressing questions raised by AEA members was prepared and shared with ASD (see https://www.zotero.org/groups/2153649/school_start_times. ASD has never shared that bibliography.

Shannon Bingham, President of Western Demographics, presented to AEA building representations on March 28th. Mr. Bingham apologized for not having published his presentation online, and for not having a bibliography available. AEA Representatives presented quite a few unanswered questions, including the impact on Elementary students, and interventions that ameliorate the sleep disorders relied upon by much of the research to suggest changes in start times (see Alaska Educators Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/AkEducators/permalink/10156543167479267/ ). ASD still has not published any additional material from Mr. Bingham.

The material presented by Mr. Bingham was somewhat inconsistent with the material presented on the ASD web page, apparently as a result of ongoing examination of the question by Western Demographics, but as noted, the most current material has not been published to the ASD website.

A short bulleted version of this is available at http://bit.ly/ASDBULLETS

Bill Roth ADN

Anchorage skyline and pan ice at Point Woronzof on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)